Top 10 100-point Napa Cabernets

8. Harlan Estate 1994

Release price: $100

Current price: $899+

Owner/winemaker: Bill Harlan/Bob Levy

Founded in 1984, Harlan Estates sits in the heart of Oakville at an elevation of between 225 feet and 1,225ft above sea level. Bill Harlan started the estate with the stated intent of producing a “Californian first growth”.

Cabernet Sauvignon is the main grape variety with 70% of the total vineyard area. Merlot (20%) and Cabernet Franc (8%) follow with a small 2% allocated to Petit Verdot. However, since 1998 the first wine has been 100% Cabernet.

1994 often ranks as one of the best vintages in the Napa Valley for Cabernet Sauvignon. Levy described the vintage at Harlan: “Average winter rainfall, cool daytime temperatures with evening and early morning marine fog. Light showers lingered into late May, and spring temperatures were moderate.

“Budbreak began the second week of April, setting the stage for a late harvest. Temperatures in the early summer stayed mostly below 80°, then heated up in August and September. Harvest began in late September and finished up on 23 October, yielding around 2.4 tons per acre.

“1994 rightfully ranks as one of California’s greatest modern-day vintages and the 1994 Harlan estate is clearly one of our best. Very classic, with lots of detail and energy,” the report concluded.

Wine Advocate #114 Dec 1997

What did Parker say: “I have tasted the wine for three consecutive years, and each time it satisfied all of my requirements for perfection. The opaque purple colour is followed by spectacular aromatics that soar from the glass, offering up celestial levels of black currants, minerals, smoked herbs, cedar wood, coffee, and pain grille.”

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